A French commonwealthman: the abbé mably

Rachel Hammersley

in The English Republican tradition and eighteenth-century France

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780719079320
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702345 | DOI:
A French commonwealthman: the abbé mably

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Gabriel Bonnot de Mably is one of the central figures in the accounts of eighteenth-century French classical republicanism offered by Keith Baker and Kent Wright. Their groundbreaking studies transformed our understanding of Mably and placed him at the centre of accounts of eighteenth-century French republicanism and the intellectual origins of the French Revolution. Yet, the classical republican label does not quite do justice to the complexity of Mably's ideas. Though his ideal form of government was in line with the ancient republican tradition, his proposals for the reform of contemporary states were those of a commonwealthman. He not only analysed the strengths and weaknesses of the British constitution in commonwealth terms, but also self-consciously went on to propose a commonwealth reform package for France. He also engaged in a radicalisation of the early modern republican tradition.

Keywords: Gabriel Bonnot de Mably; French classical republicanism; French Revolution; commonwealthman; British constitution

Chapter.  6319 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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